Three reasons we believe in God. Gabe and I talked about three reasons we believe in Theism as opposed to a Naturalist worldview. He wrote down these concepts as we discussed them.
First, it is impossible to cross infinity. Time had to have a beginning because one cannot count backwards to negative infinity. We pulled out the dominoes to review this concept, and just because they’re fun. Just like there would always be one more domino to represent one more day in the past, we could never start time without the first moment or unless we had the first domino to start our falling dominoes. If time is like a chain of dominoes then God brought the first piece.
Second, the exquisite fine-tuning of the universe. There are 30 to 50 universal constants such as the mass of a proton, the speed of light, the gravitational constant or the relationship between mass and energy. Changing any of them by even a billionth of a percentage point would make life impossible. Gabe laid on his bed and shot his small basketball in the hoop on his bedroom wall, and says, “You mean it’s like shooting this basketball and making the shot the same way every time, over and over!” These constants are unmistakably designed and denying this is futile.
Third, the universal moral law. Right and wrong. Gabe wrote a short list of virtues (being helpful, courageous, good, honest, kind, loyal ) and vices (being selfish, bad, lie, steal, killer). The moral law is not found in the flesh of humans, in the brain or on the liver. The moral law transcends culture, time and personalities. Human persons are aware of it and consciously obey it or willingly disobey it.
If you are told that you are an idiot and that there aren’t any peer-reviewed scientific papers supporting ID, you can always point to these. You could also use Signature in the Cell by Stephen Meyer. It all reads like science to me.
A peer-reviewed scientific paper published in 2010 by William Dembski and Robert Marks of theEvolutionary Informatics Lab supports no free lunch theorems. Published in Journal of Advanced Computational Intelligence and Intelligent Informatics and titled “The Search for a Search: Measuring the Information Cost of Higher Level Search,” the paper’s abstract states that unless one has information about a target, search engines often fail: “Needle-in-the-haystack problems look for small targets in large spaces. In such cases, blind search stands no hope of success.” Their principle of Conservation of Information holds that “any search technique will work, on average, as well as blind search.” However, in such a case “[s]uccess requires an assisted search. But whence the assistance required for a search to be successful?”
Dembski and Marks thus argue that “successful searches do not emerge spontaneously but need themselves to be discovered via a search.” However, without information about the target, the search for a search itself is still no better than a blind search:
We prove two results: (1) The Horizontal No Free Lunch Theorem, which shows that average relative performance of searches never exceeds unassisted or blind searches, and (2) The Vertical No Free Lunch Theorem, which shows that the difficulty of searching for a successful search increases exponentially with respect to the minimum allowable active information being sought.
The implication of course, is that without the ultimate input from an intelligent agent–active information–such searches will fail.
Being a Linguist and Cryptographer will soon be prerequisites for being a Biologist. The information necessary for even a bacterium to operate should give strict physicalists something to think about for the next 50 years.
In a recent interview, Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn says:
“Wiedeking’s successor, Michael Macht, rose through the ranks to become a member of the VW Group board of directors. He did excellent work previously as head of production and chairman of the management board at Porsche. Porsche is No. 1 in the quality rankings in the United States … This was one of the reasons we brought in Mr. Macht as head of production for the VW Group. We want him to bring the same successes he achieved at Porsche to Volkswagen and Audi. We are in the process of building a new plant in the United States, which is where we intend to go on the offensive. Quality is at the top of our agenda there.”
Geometry, numbers and information in the world around us point to either an unknown physical law of nature, a Creator or nothing at all. But can we determine which it is? Because sunflowers, shells and bugs are so common, most people are lulled into complacency choosing to brush the whole question aside. Some claim the process is strictly caused by natural forces, but the process isn’t what is in question here, as we can all see that the process is happening quite naturally. I remain constantly amazed at the smallest of things and I love when my wife and kids go on a walk and stop to look at these smallest of things in amazement. But most are quite bored with the process actually. What we are interested in is the origin of that process. We want to ask ourselves how the initial set of conditions for the process came about. Is it natural or is it from design and therefore, mind or consciousness?
William Dembski raises another point in Design Revolution:
Granted the “biological software” that outputs Fibonacci sequences is probably quite simple and might even be due to pure natural forces like selective pressure. (It’s a stretch but let’s grant it for the sake of argument.) Nevertheless, the simplest “biological hardware” that runs that software is a functioning cell. And the simplest functioning cell is staggeringly complex, exhibiting layer upon layer of specified complexity and therefore design.
In the video above, the commentator mentions that “Helicase spins the DNA as fast as a jet engine as it unwinds the double helix into two strands…” Researchers explain that DNA replication occurs at 600km/h or 375mph?¹
The earth spins on itself and around the sun at a specific speed – higher or slower life cannot be sustained. A car or a motorcycle engine operates within an acceptable RPM range (revolutions per minute) without damaging the engine – too slow and it stalls, too fast and it blows.
My question is, What causes something to spin? What sets an object in motion and keeps it at a specific optimal speed? Can strictly physical causes establish the proper range at which an object spins and continue spinning while performing its function?
¹Molecular biology: genes to proteins. Burton E. Tropp, David Freifelder. Edition 3, illustrated. Publisher Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2008. ISBN 0763709166, 9780763709167 (http://bit.ly/cuLQfH)
If knowing when human life begins is “above pay grade” then a lingering question remains. if it’s vague when human life/personhood begins, WHY DOES IT DEFINITELY EXIST AT CHILDBIRTH? Is there a pro-choice answer to this question that isn’t mere emotion? Partial birth abortion brought this question to the forefront and I never heard it answered.
Just for some context as the “above pay grade” comment was aired August 17, 2008. CNN transcript (http://bit.ly/aan2Aa). Video clip above (http://bit.ly/c6AhXe). Go to the 06:55 min for the start of the question.
RICK WARREN: … I know this is a very complex issue. Forty million abortions, at what point does a baby get human rights, in your view?
OBAMA: Well, you know, I think that whether you’re looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity, you know, is above my pay grade. [removed sigh, eh, er uh, uhhhh for clarity]
[Obama later argues his case]: …One thing that I’m absolutely convinced of is that there is a moral and ethical element to this issue …I am pro-choice. I believe in Roe v. Wade, and I come to that conclusion not because I’m pro-abortion, but because, ultimately, I don’t think women make these decisions casually. I think they — they wrestle with these things in profound ways, in consultation with their pastors or their spouses or their doctors or their family members… One of the things that I’ve always said is that on this particular issue, if you believe that life begins at conception, then — and you are consistent in that belief, then I can’t argue with you on that, because that is a core issue of faith for you.
Obama’s “above my pay grade” answer is related to a human rights question and when they start applying to babies. Note that the question is not when life begins for a baby but rather when it is that babies become persons worthy of internationally established human rights. Of course if Obama acknowledges that it is a person growing in the womb and not an object, then babies would qualify and would be protected under human right laws. But Obama states that it is a “core issue of faith” for those who “believe that life begins at conception.” Obama does not regard babies as human persons. In fact he divides us into two camps from the get-go: on one side we have the people of faith and on the other we have the people who have scientific knowledge.
Before I answer Nathan’s question, it should be said that there is no difference whatsoever between the “theological perspective” and the “scientific perspective” as Obama implies when he attempts to divide us. He must know that a divided house cannot stand. I gathered a few well-known and circulated quotes:
“By all criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception.” Dr. Hymie Gordon (Mayo Clinic)
“It is scientifically correct to say that an individual human life begins at conception.” Dr. Micheline Matthews-Roth (Harvard University Medical School)
“I have learned from my earliest medical education that human life begins at the time of conception.” Dr. Alfred Bongioanni (University of Pennsylvania)
“To accept the fact that after fertilization has taken place a new human has come into being is no longer a matter of taste or opinion . . . it is plain experimental evidence.” Dr. Jerome LeJeune, “the Father of Modern Genetics” (University of Descartes, Paris)
Now to answer Nathan’s question which was: “if it’s vague when human life/personhood begins, WHY DOES IT DEFINITELY EXIST AT CHILDBIRTH?” Science acknowledges that life begins at the time of conception so there is no longer anything vague here. What is vague is what is personhood? What constitutes a person? The answer I believe is found in the way physical particles assemble themselves to create a human body in the first place. What is the driving force that moves atoms to form molecules, proteins, cells and so on? Is the person those molecular bits or is a person the driving force that moves the bits? From what I understand about myself by introspection I am not the atomic simples that compose me. I am more than that. I scientifically have to be more than that because if my arm is cut off I am still 100% me even though I lost say 14% of my body. I am also able to survive constant parts replacement throughout the day as cells die and are replaced by the hundreds of thousands. I also have this uncanny power to move the physical particles that constitute my physical body. I can move my arm up freely, to vote for example. So it appears that the power that drives the building of the physical body is the person. You could call that substance the soul. Persons (humans or angels, God) are non-physical substances. We humans just happen to be persons who have physical bodies. This is not a matter of faith by the way. I have first-person knowledge of these facts by introspecting and anyone has access to this knowledge not from science but from simply thinking about it.
So personhood exists at birth because it is the driving force behind the physical development of the body. (Ever been amazed at sperm swimming and knowing where it is going?) A male transfers soulish-driven material into a woman egg both containing soulish substances and sets of instructions for the new construction to begin. This newly formed person (soul) uses DNA libraries to start constructing the physical bits. I could expand on this but that’s what I believe to be true not because of faith but because of scientific, logical, and metaphysical knowledge.
Obama’s argument is so weak as to be incoherent. He says “I come to that conclusion [believing in Roe v. Wade] not because I’m pro-abortion, but because, ultimately, I don’t think women make these decisions casually. I think they — they wrestle with these things in profound ways.” So let me get this right. As long as I am not casual and I wrestle profoundly in my decision making I can rob a bank? Perhaps I can kill the neighbor’s dog because it barks at night? (there is no dog… just an example). It simply does not follow that if one wrestles profoundly with an issue, he has the right to carry on with his final decision without other considerations. I have rarely heard of a weaker argument.